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Northern Ireland Health Chief: Restrictions may last until next year

Northern Ireland’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Michael McBride, has said that covid-19 restrictions could last until 2022, saying that it may not be possible to ease regulations until “70 to 80%” of the population is vaccinated.

Speaking of the virus’ UK variant, he compared the new strain to “finely-tuned sports car”, which he said would spread rapidly if restrictions were rowed back too early.

“If you want to talk about spring next year and 2022, I think that there will be some of the restrictions, not all of the current restrictions, but there will still need to be some restrictions in place,” McBride said, saying that people had to be realistic about the timescale.

“Hopefully some of the most difficult aspects of the restrictions will begin to ease into next year, certainly before that. But there will be some elements which I think we will have to keep in place for, for some time.

“I think there is no doubt that as we vaccinate more people that the need for restrictions will become less, but I think that’s over a six to nine month timeframe – that is not over the next three months.”

To date, around 16.7% of Northern Ireland’s population have been vaccinated. Meanwhile, 4.6% of the Republic’s population have received at least one dose of the vaccine, as EU member states continue to lag behind the UK and America.

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